How to Set Your Table for Passover Seder
Those who celebrate Passover know that it’s more than just a holiday dinner. The Passover Seder is laced with rituals, readings, prayers, traditions, and history – which means setting the table plays a larger part than it would at other festive family meals. Whether you’re a seasoned entertainer or a novice at hosting holidays, here’s a handy guide to how to set the perfect Passover table.
Choose a Special Seder Plate
As the centerpiece of the seder table, the seder plate displays six ceremonial foods. Choose a piece of fine china, a platter that’s been passed down from a family member, or just an attractive dish that reflects your taste in design. If you don’t have anything at home, consider going out and purchasing a large platter that you can use for the occasion for years to come. You’ll then place the six items – a boiled egg; parsley; a shank bone; two types of bitter herbs (often horseradish and Romaine lettuce); and a fruit and nut chutney called charoset — in a circle formation on the Seder plate.
Set Out Enough Dishes for Each Course
Passover typically includes courses of fish, soup, meat, dessert, and matzo, so you’ll need enough plates and bowls for each. Since the Seder includes the tradition of dipping vegetables into salt water, you’ll also want to put out enough bowls of salt water around the table for each guest to reach easily. Then, set out a wine glass, water glass, and flatware at each place setting as you would for any other dinner.
Give Each Guest a Haggadah
The Haggadah (which translates to “telling”), is a book that tells the story of the Exodus from Egypt, includes food and ritual descriptions, explaining when and how each rite is performed throughout the seder meal. Many hosts make a point of asking guests to read passages, so place a Haggadah at each place setting. For guests of other faiths or who simply don’t read Hebrew, many Haggadahs offer English translations (even Amazon sells them), allowing everyone to participate.
Prepare a Matzo Plate
There is perhaps no more quintessential Passover Seder item than Matzo – a cracker-like unleavened flatbread. When keeping with tradition, you’ll need to wrap three ceremonial pieces of matzah in a three-section cloth (though a cloth napkin folded into three sections will do) on a plate and place it near the seder leader’s setting, as there will be times during the readings where the matzo will come into play.
Enjoy With Wine
Oenophiles rejoice. Wine has a serious supporting role in every seder. The Haggadah instructs participants to drink four glasses of wine throughout the dinner. OK, so maybe not everyone is going to have quite that much, but you’ll still need a wine glass for each guest and enough bottles to make sure guests’ glasses stay filled. Grape juice is a fun substitute for kids and teetotalers.
Keep an Extra Glass on Hand
As part of the seder, a glass of wine is poured for the prophet Elijah, so put an empty glass in the middle of the table for when it comes time to fill the glass for this particular ritual.
Add Other Attractive Elements
You and your guests will likely be gathered around the table for several hours, so you might as well make it as eye-pleasing as possible. A tablecloth is not just a nice touch but can help move items around the table easier. You can also amp up the aesthetic with festive napkins, vases of flowers, pretty place cards, and plenty of candles, which will be lit as part of the seder rituals.
However, you choose to decorate your table, keeping it rooted in tradition with a sprinkling of your own style is sure to make this Passover Seder a memorable meal.